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Jewish Alliance for Women in Science

Helping Women Enter Careers Related to Science and Medicine

JAWS Highlighted Feature

Visit Mentors' Round Table to read our interviews of women in the fields of science and health. These are women of varying levels of experience and backgrounds, brought to the table to answer your questions about everything from work-life balance to financial management. Read on, be inspired, and leave them (and us!) a comment!

Newest Interviews: Ecologist, MD Student 1 (2nd year) , MD Student 2 (2nd year) , Optometry Student and Speech Pathologist

Check back soon! More to come!

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Postdoctoral Scientist

Scientific research is a career that sometimes never occurs to many women as an option. However, in recent years there has been a great increase in the number of female scientists. To learn more about becoming a scientist visit the career page.

After receiving a PhD many scientists go on to pursue a "postdoc", so called because it happens after you have received your doctorate. This is a period of independent research supervised by a senior faculty member.

Below we have an interview with a secular Jewish female postdoc. We hope you enjoy reading how she discovered that science was the right career for her. 

Interview with a Postdoctoral Scientist

How did you choose your career?

I love science! I always have, but I think when I took an "independent research" course in college it opened my eyes to a career in science and what it means to work in a lab. Before that, I thought my only option was to go to medical school, I didn't realize that being a scientist was an option too.

Were there any obstacles you had to face in your training or later career?

Grad school is definitely challenging! If you don't love it, don't do it. It's hard to work 60+ hours per week on something you're not passionate about.

Have there been any problems in your work life or training that have arisen because of your religion?

No - Secular Jewish people are certainly not a minority in science.

What do you like best about your career? What do you like least?

I am still amazed that I can get paid to do something I truly enjoy doing. It doesn't feel like work. I love the flexibility of being in science and the independence you can have with choosing your research areas and directions. The salary certainly is not great. There is also a lot of pressure. But, it works since I'm a workaholic.

Are you married?

No Way! I had a miserable, unhappy childhood filled with abuse - that's not something I want in my life. That's just me, though.

What does your family think about your career?

Even though I finished a PhD I think my parents don't think I have a "real job" because the salary is terrible. And they think I work too hard.

How do/did you handle the financial stress of training?

I never drink at bars and make my own coffee in the morning. Most of my friends spend $200-300 per month on alcohol and coffee alone. Seriously, a night out at the bar will run about $50, and that $4 cup of coffee every day adds up! That being said, I shop mostly at Whole Foods and have my fair share of designer jeans. I guess you just have to choose where you spend your money.

Are things turning out the way you planned or are they different? Is your career different than what you expected when you chose it?

I think I'm on track.

Do you have any advice for students aspiring to be where you are?

If you're going to choose a career in academic research, make sure you're committed and are passionate about it. The burnout rate is high for those that don't love it.

If you could do this over again would you? Is there anything you would change?

I think about that a lot. There's no other career I could imagine doing.

Do you have any role models you look up to?

Yes - my first boss when I was a technician. He has a great mind of science and is able to come up with novel and interesting ideas that has led to a successful career. 

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